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UN Ammo Had "Fraudulent Permits," S. African Police Say, 8 Tons Stopped

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 5 -- Police in South Africa are questioning whether there was fraud involved in a shipment of eight tons of ammunition headed to the a UN depot in the Congo. Contrary to UN statements to the Press, South African authorities have said, on February 5, that "there is a lot more investigation that needs to be undertaken regarding this ammunition, its destination and what appears to be fraudulent permits that were presented to officials."

  For the UN, which has committee charged with enforcing arms embargoes, to be charged with the use of fraudulent permits and end user certificates is more than a little ironic.

  Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Martin Nesirky on February 4:

Inner City Press: There is a case in South Africa where eight tons of ammunition have been seized by the Government… I mean, seized by police. It is said they were ordered by the UN for use in Ivory Coast, Liberia and Burundi. I guess what I’m wondering is, my understanding was that contingents bring their own ammunition, that the peacekeeping contingents from various nations that go to peacekeeping bring their own ammo and are reimbursed by the UN. Can you, either now or if you look into it, explain why the UN was ordering eight tons of ammunition, how the order came about, and what it would be used for?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, I think it’s obvious what ammunition is used for.

  Obvious, perhaps, but not without controversy for the UN. In Haiti, the use of tear gas, rubber bullets and even 50 caliber guns to control crowds in search of food aid has been criticized even by the UN's own partners. This ammunition is all lethal, no rubber bullets listed.

UN trains for VIP protection, questioned end user certificates not shown

  The questioning continued:

Inner City Press: Why the UN itself was ordering instead of its own mission, it’s own peacekeepers that usually bring their guns with them?

  The following day, Nesirky's office sent the following to Inner City Press:

From: unspokesperson-donotreply [at]
Date: Fri, Feb 5, 2010
Subject: Your Question on Alleged Seizure of UN ammunition by South African police
To: Inner City Press

Ammunition not meant for Blue Helmets (Or Contingents) but for UN Security Personnel in BINUB, ONUCI and UNMIL.

The purchase was not meant for Blue Helmets (contingents), which are coming to the field with their own arms and ammunition, but for UN security personnel of three UN peacekeeping missions (BINUB, ONUCI and UINMIL).

The purchase was a standard solicitation completed with full cooperation from the Permanent Mission of the Republic of South Africa. All licenses and end user certification have been obtained, presented and approved by proper authorities. The incident is now closed.

  But on February 5, police in South Africa reiterated that "there is a lot more investigation that needs to be undertaken regarding this ammunition, its destination and what appears to be fraudulent permits that were presented to officials."

  Just as the UN is appealing its own UN Dispute Tribunal's $20,000 judgment against Under Secretary General Shaaban Shaaban, South African police are appealing an order that was apparently won ex parte, without them being present. We will continue to watch on this case, on which the UN should provide updates given the dubious nature of its February 5 statement that "the incident is closed." Watch this site.

* * *

Ban Ki-moon's Nesirky Claims UN Pension Fund Not Part of UN, No Answers on Africa as Even Questions Are Restricted

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 5 -- "I don't think that's question that I need to answer," UN Spokesman Martin Nesirky told the Press on February 5. Inner City Press had asked about a UN Administrative Tribunal decision in favor of former Secretary General Kofi Annan, reversing the UN Pension Fund and awarded Annan two pensions, as a staff member and as Secretary General. (Click here for Inner City Press' February 4 exclusive report and link.)

  "That sounds like something for the Pension Fund to answer, not me," Nesirky said, in what is becoming a trend two months into Nesirky's tenure. Inner City Press explained that the Pension Fund claims its building on Second Avenue is not open to the UN press corps.

  "You've just answered your own question," Nesirky said. "It's not part of the UN system." Video here, from Minute 14:42.

  Since it decidedly is -- it has the UN's immunity and Nesirky's boss Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for example names a representative, currently Warren Sach -- Inner City Press asked Nesirky to repeat and explain, "the UN Pension Fund is not a part of the UN system?"

  Then Nesirky claimed that is not "a question I need to answer."

  So what or whose questions does UN spokesman Nesirky acknowledge that he "needs to answer"? Also on February 5, Inner City Press asked straight forward questions about Darfur, for the UN's response to widely reported fighting between rebel groups displacing 10,000 people in an area in which the UN is charged with protecting civilians. Nesirky said only, "Let me find out." Video here, from Minute 14:17.

  When Inner City Press asked about UN training of ex-rebels in Nigeria's restive Niger Delta, Nesirky demanded to know how the article in the Guardian newspaper of Nigeria was sourced, what UN official was named. Video here, from Minute 27:23. Inner City Press provided the information, in response to which Nesirky again said, let's find out.  Yeah, let's.

UN's Ban and his spokesman, number of questions limited, many not answered

  This was the approach of Nesirky's predecessor Michele Montas, to answer less than half of the questions posed. But even she rarely said, only one more question, or, no more questions for you, as Nesirky increasingly does. At first, Nesirky said he would answer all questions, putting them on a list until they were answered. (Click here for Inner City Press' first month review of "NeSmirky"). But repeated questions at the noon briefing about Somalia have yet to be answered.

  Questions put to him in writing about nepotism reaching to the highest levels of the UN have been entirely ignored. In response to a nepotism question about Ivory Coast, he outsourced answering to the UN Mission there, which provided an intentionally misleading answer. Nesirky, even when shown the answer and then a contradicting acknowledgement, had nothing to say.

  Apparently that too is "not a question I need to answer," according to Mr. Nesirky. Watch this site.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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